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Developing Goals and Objectives for Gameplay and Learning

  • Digital and Creative Learning Lab

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This chapter introduces goals in games and then potential differences between learning goals and goalsin games, as well as the difficulties that may occur when implementing learning goals in games.
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Learning, Education and Games
Volume One: Curricular and Design Considerations
Edited by Karen Schrier
Wrien by members of the Learning, Education and Games (LEG) Special Interest Group (SIG)
of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA)
Learning, Education and Games
Volume One: Curricular and Design Considerations
Copyright © by Karen Schrier
and ETC Press 2014
Design Direction by Shirley Yee
ISBN: 978-1-312-54285-3
Library of Congress Control Number: 2014952163
TEXT: The text of this work is licensed under a Creative Commons
Aribution-NonCommerical-NonDerivative 2.5 License
IMAGES: All images appearing in this work are property
of the respective copyright owners,
and are not released into the Creative Commons.
The respective owners reserve all rights.
Learning, Education and Games
Volume One: Curricular and Design Considerations
Edited by Karen Schrier
Wrien by members of the Learning, Education and Games (LEG) Special Interest Group (SIG)
of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA)
Table of Contents
Introduction by Karen Schrier 1
Acknowledgements 5
Contributor Bios 7
SECTION I—Curricular Considerations
1 Using Games to Teach, Practice, and Encourage Interest in STEM Subjects
by Elena Bertozzi 23
2 Using Computer Game Programming to Teach Computational Thinking Skills
by Linda Werner, Jill Denner, and Shannon Campe 37
Featurin g a case study wrien by Luca s Crispen and Elizabeth LaPensée
3 The Use of Video Games for Literacy Acquisition and Studying Literate
Practices by Richard E. Ferdig and Kristine E. Pytash 55
Featurin g a case study wrien by Liz Jasko
4 Designing Digital Games to Teach History by Karen Schrier 73
5 Music Games in Education by Ethan Hein 93
6 Using Games to Combine Physical Activity with Learning
by Robin Mellecker, Lisa Witherspoon, and Stephen Yang 109
7 Designing Games for Emotional Health by Ralph Vacca, Meagan Bromley,
Jakob Leyrer, Manuel Sprung, and Bruce Homer 123
8 Designing and Using Games to Teach Ethics and Ethical Thinking
by Karen Schrier 143
9 Teaching 21st Century, Executive-Functioning, and Creativity Skills
with Popular Video Games and Apps by Randy Kulman,
Teresa Slobuski, and Roy Seitsinger 161
SECTION II—Design Considerations
10 Methods of Designs by Katrin Becker and Jim Parker 181
11 Designing for the Audience and Inclusive Considerations
by Gabriela T. Richard 201
Featurin g case studies wrien by Paul Darvasi, Owen Golieb, and Sabrina Haskell Culyba
12 Developing Goals and Objectives for Gameplay and Learning
by Charloe Lærke Weitze 227
13 The Most Important Process for Making Great Games by Ira Fay 253
14 Assessing Video Games for Learning by David Simkins 267
Developing Goals and Objectives
for Gameplay and Learning
Charloe Lærke Weitze, Aalborg University, Copenhagen, Denmark,
Key Summary Points
When designing learning games consider how the learning goals can interact with the game
goals and how both should be addressed through the game mechanics used in the game.
Let the design of the progress toward the game goals make it necessary to engage with the
intended learning goals as the player/student works her way through the game.
The design of the challenges, rules and feedback are important when implementing and
aligning the learning goals with the game goals.
Key Terms
Game goals
Learning goals
Alignment of goals
Design of feedback
Goals in learning and games
Implementing learning
“It is a delicate dance between art and science, between instructional design and game design, and
between play and guided discovery” (Hirumi, Appelman, Rieber, & Eck, 2010, p. 37).
This chapter introduces goals in games and then potential dierences between learning goals and goals
in games, as well as the diculties that may occur when implementing learning goals in games.
What are goals?
To design game goals for a learning game, we should begin by looking at the characteristics of goals and
how they are traditionally used in games.
Goals are objectives that a person or a system desires to achieve (Oxford Dictionaries, 2014). In a game,
a goal is what we strive for (e.g., goals can be to kill the dragon and rescue the princess). Goals are
fundamental to games; they determine what the player has to do to win the game, and give the player
a sense of accomplishment and progression. Goals are what a player reaches for in the game and they
are traditionally quantifiable, meaning that the goals are entities that can be measured, depending on
which goals we use. By making measurable goals, it is possible to tell when the goals are reached. The
player will typically know if she has reached the goal through feedback in the game. For example, this
feedback can be communicated using trophies, badges, points or unlocked new challenges and goals.
By adding a goal we can make a game out of casual activity. For instance, we can change “doing
homework” to a game by stating “the person who finishes her homework first gets to choose what movie
to see in the cinema.” The goals are oen central to the structure of the game, which means that goals
are used to purposefully guide the player through the game, as they are the focal point of the player’s
desire in the game. A useful practice in designing goals is not just having one end goal, but a series
of sub-goals that help guide the player. For example, when a player is working her way through the
Rayman Legends game, she is guided by sub-goals. Examples of sub-goals in one of the challenges are
catching fireflies and hearts giving her points and trophies when escaping from and fighting the boss
monster, freeing dierent figures in the game on the way to complete one of the many levels. Here,
you can regard the fireflies and hearts as small sub-goals, the aim of escaping and fighting the current
boss monster as another sub-goal, the objective of freeing other figures as a sub-goals and the aim of
completing the current level as a sub-goal. The overall goal of the game is to complete all the levels and
become a hero. In this way all the sub-goals helps to gradually lead her toward the end-goal and also
gives her a feeling of progress, thereby keeping her engaged in the overall experience (Fullerton, 2008;
Ferrara, 2012).
Goals in a game can set the tone in a game and can also be adjusted to generate particular behaviors,
actions, and feelings in a game (Fullerton, 2008). For example, in Rayman Legends the goals in the
game will make the player run, jump, and stop. It can foster feelings (e.g., fear of the monster or joy of
achieving the goal and defeating the monster). When it comes to what you want to achieve in a game
you can aim to reach your goal, but you can also have it as your aim or goal to avoid a threat. For
example, if you look at a scene in Plants vs. Zombies, the aim is not to be eaten by zombies, so your aim
in the game is to avoid the threat of the zombies. The goal is to survive the hordes of zombies and kill
enough of them within a certain timeframe; thus, the goal is to avoid the zombie aack.
Once we define the goal(s) of a game, we need to develop rules for how to reach this goal, and which
obstacles or challenges are necessary to overcome to reach the goal. For example, in Plants vs. Zombies
if you want to reach the goal of the next level by keeping the specific zombies out of your house at the
current level, you have to plant enough flowers to save up for buying weapons, as well as to choose the
right weapons and be strategic in the order and timing of using your protective weapons to be able to
survive. Once a game’s end-goal is reached, it means the player has won, and he must find a new game
with new goals. In a way, winning causes a sort of “death” in the game experience (Koster, 2005).
How are goals in a game dierent from goals in learning?
There have been examples of games where the learning goals and game tasks are implemented
separately, and the learner is rewarded with a small game or puzzle that is entirely separate from the
learning objectives of the experience. For instance, a game could involve solving a math problem and
then geing to play a short racing game as the reward (Ratan & Rierfeld, 2009). This approach is
traditionally called chocolate covered broccoli, because it hides what is supposed to be “not fun” or
unappetizing under something delicious, such as games, while not making a connection between the
learning and the fun in the game.
But how do learning goals and game goals dier? The basic dierence between the learning goal and
the game goal is that the learning goal is the knowledge and intellectual abilities we want the student
to learn in the game, whereas the game goal is the actual goal the student/player is striving for in the
game. But it will depend on the game how this dierence is constructed and how close they come
to each other. In some games, the learning goal is not the target game goal, but a means to reach the
game goal. For instance, in the game Citizen Science, an adventure game that teaches scientific literacy
and limnology (the study of freshwater lakes) to schoolchildren, the player’s game goal is to restore a
polluted lake, Lake Mendota. Through the play of the game, the learner/player gathers information and
knowledge to build arguments that can convince people with influence in the game and change the life
in the lake. In this way, the game goal is dierent, but related to, the learning goal. The learning goals
enhance scientific literacy and knowledge about limnology, and this practice becomes the sub-goals
that are necessary to achieve the larger game goal, which is to restore the polluted lake in the game. By
focusing on the ecological needs of Lake Mendota, as well as its surrounding community, the game,
through its goals, achieves its learning goals as well (e.g., the understanding and practice real-world
issues and scientific practices). Thus, when designing learning games, we need to consider how the
learning goals can interact with the game goals, and how the game mechanics support these goals.
Game mechanics are what you can do in the game—the combination of actions with rules that produces
the game or gameplay (Iuppa & Borst, 2010). For example in Citizen Science the designers succeeded in
leing the learning goals (e.g., understanding and practice of limnology and how you can work toward
saving a polluted lake) interact with the game goal (e.g., saving the polluted lake). The game mechanics
support the goals since the rules, possibilities, and challenges in the game are constructed in a way such
that the player/learner has to gain knowledge to experience and practice how they can work toward
saving a polluted lake (through the non-playing characters (NPCs) in the game). The learning goals,
game goals, and the content should be structured in a way that allows for a progressive comprehension
of the content of the game (Annea, 2010). Gee also describes this as “fish tanks” (Gee, 2007). A way
to implement the learning goals is to be creating small simplified eco-systems or fish tanks in the
game, starting out with a simplified model of a complex system, making it possible for the learner to
interact with the system, and geing to know it lile by lile, and then leing the game add a bit more
complexity along the way ending up with the learner having understood the complexity of the whole
system and how it interacts.
The challenges of designing games with respect to learning goals
One of the diculties about designing according to the learning goals is that the learning goals might
not be easy to incorporate into the play of a game. In a learning game, the learning goals are essential.
In other words, the learning goals are what are to be experienced, considered, practiced, and reflected
upon. Teaching successfully through a learning game will only happen if we succeed in aligning our
learning goals and game goals in the game in a way that both addresses the curriculum and keeps
the fun of playing a game. This can be challenging, but when the process of learning and achieving
competence is designed in a way that is fun in and of itself it can be done (Koster, 2005).
In the development and use of a ga me for learni ng in the classroom, it is important to ensure possibilities
for implementation of the learning goals in a measureable and controlled way in the game, meaning
that when you develop and implement a learning goal you should at the same time consider how this
learning goal can be measured and aligned with assessment to be able to evaluate when the learner has
reached the lear ning goal (Hirumi et a l., 2010). Thus, considering how the lea rning goals are implemented
in the game enhances the possibility of useful evaluations of learning, such as whether the particular
parts of the curriculum were achieved through the play of the game in class as well as the extent to
which the games were eective in helping the students learn (Institute of Play, 2014a).
Another challenge is that instructional designers, educators, and game designers construct goals
dierently. The instructional designer or educator aims to develop a game that helps the students
reach the learning objectives. She has the expertise to choose and plan which content and learning
activities will support the dierent learning processes that traditionally lead to the students reaching
the learning goals. The game designer, on the other hand, knows how to design the gameplay and the
dierent game elements, such as game mechanics, navigation, interaction, and levels, and how to make
everything come together for a fun and interesting experience for the player (Iuppa & Borst, 2010). So
where the teacher traditionally is focused on the learning, the game designer has his focus on how
to make everything an interesting and coherent experience. The resulting game must be a balance
between the aims of these two perspectives.
Case Study One: Piano Dustbuster
The Piano Dustbuster game from JoyTunes is an example of how piano teaching can work in a game
experience. This game teaches children how to play piano, giving them the opportunity to train using
their own real piano, using a stealth recording of what you play at the piano and leing the played tones
influence the game. In this way there is a seamless integration between what is played on the piano and
what is happening in the game. This is an innovative and intuitive way to introduce piano playing to
children, which can be used by the children alone or as a supplement to actual piano lessons.
In the game you can choose to play many dierent songs and they are divided into dierent popular
styles and levels of diculty. Earning points and stars in the game provide an assessment of your
progress. The game is divided between a rehearsal mode and a concert mode. In the rehearsal mode,
an old lady in the game tries to sweep away the dust and the player has to help her by hiing the keys
on her own piano at the right moment when the dierent speck of dust hits the piano keys in the game.
This interaction will create the melodies played with the correct tones in the correct order at the correct
time. The rehearsal mode provides more help than the concert mode; for example, it stops if you miss
a tone. In the concert mode you are still sweeping dust and accompanied by an orchestra or a band.
This accompanying feature is motivating because it sounds nice, like an entire band when you playing.
Though the game will not be able to replace the piano teacher it is a motivating and engaging way of
geing to know how to play dierent tunes. The game’s gameplay is “composed” of traditional game
elements (Weitze & Ørngreen, 2011), such as:
1. Action stage: There is a story with an old lady sweeping dust of the piano keys. And the
stage in the game is not only inside the game but also “outside” at the real piano.
2. A goal: To be able to play a song without mistakes in the right tempo.
3. Rules: You have to hit the right keys at the right moment.
4. Choice: You can choose what songs you want to play and what style.
5. Challenge: You can progress through the dierent songs with ascending levels of diculty.
6. Feedback: Dierent kinds of feedback are given, including:
a. Short-term, as you are at once informed if you have played the right piano key.
b. Long-term, as you are told how well you performed in dierent categories
(number of right notes, accuracy).
A reward also can be considered as a kind of feedback, as the reward is that you get to play with a “real
band” in the game aer having practiced. You can also achieve stars when everything works out well
for you. This game is a good example of how you can design a game by making it a supplementary
motivational tool for learning.
Key Frameworks
In this section, I will cover the two concepts ludus (game-like structured goals) and paidia (play-like
player-led goals), the design of game goals, the design of learning goals and how to align learning goals
with game goals.
Clear and measurable goals are oen what make a game dier from more ambiguous play activities
(Salen & Zimmerman, 2004). This is indeed true for many traditional as well as learning games and
is one way to categorize and characterize games. Prensky (2001) has divided learning games into a
number of categories showing how dierent kinds of content, learning activities and subject maers are
possible to implement in the dierent kinds of categories of games. We also have to consider that this
way of matching subject maers and game categories when choosing style and shape of the game also
to a large degree will dependent on the designer’s imagination and innovative talent.
These design choices will influence how the goals in the game are designed. One framework that can be
used for revealing characteristics of the game, making it clearer how to design goals, involves placing
the games on the axis between the concepts ludus and paidia (Caillois, 2001). Ludus refers to a game
that is more goal-oriented with structured rules and objectives. An example of this is Dragonbox (2014).
Dragonbox is a math game teaching children a range of math rules (for example a + 0 = a) in an intuitive
way. Here, the subject maer in itself is very rule-based and to reach the sub-goals in the game, the
player is both guided as well as discover all the dierent rules and procedures by exploring the game.
On the other hand, paidia is a more open-ended kind of playing that involves fantasy, creativity,
and improvisation. The goals in ludus are structured, specific and measurable and it takes eort and
acquisition of skills to reach them. In paidia, the goals are more flexible, implicit, changeable, and
player-led, like playing in a sandbox. For example, in Minecra Creative Mode (2014) players set their
own goals, create their own worlds, and their goals may change as their designs evolve or if they are
inspired by the materials or by other players in the game-world (Murphy Cherto, Guerrero, & Mo,
2013). Teachers also use Minecra in Creative Mode as a learning game where the teachers create
the goals and rules according to the subject maer, which moves Minecra toward the ludus pole.
These dierent kinds of goals oer dierent kinds of possibilities for both subject maers as well as for
pedagog ies when designing games. The possibi lities for leing the students decide for their own lear ning
goals in the paidia end of the spectrum will for instance harmonize well with social constructivist
Table 1. The spectrum of ludus and paidia
Ludus Paidia
Characteristics of goals Structured, specific and measurable Flexible, implicit, changeable and player-led
Game examples Dragonbox Minecra Creative Mode
Designing game goals
There are a number of methods to use when designing learning games, but when it comes specifically
to establish game goals there are not many frameworks—game goals are typically part of the whole
game design. Schell (2008) has outlined the qualities that goals should have in the game to make them
appropriate and well balanced. The four most important qualities for goals are as follows:
1. Goals should be concrete in a way that makes it clear for the player what the ultimate goal
is for the game. If there are a series of goals, these should also be understandable.
2. The goals should be challenging but achievable, leing the player feel that he will be able to
reach the goals, so he does not give up.
3. The goal(s) should be designed in a way that both makes the player look forward to the
achieving the goal, as well as enjoying having reached the goal. If you have placed the goal
aer the right level of challenge the goal will be rewarding in itself.
4. You also have to balance the goals in your game in the short- and long-term, and let them
relate to each other in a meaningful way (Schell, 2008).
Goals are powerful in games since it is common to use the goals as an indirect control in games. For
example, if you have a path spliing in two in a game, you cannot predict which direction the player
will take, as she has her freedom to make her own choices. But, if you give the player a goal (e.g., find a
new weapon to kill the dragon) and you give a hint about the new weapon being on the le side, then
the player most likely will choose the le direction. When you have designed goals that make the player
care for the game by wanting to achieve these goals, then you can sculpt the game world around these
goals, since the player traditionally will choose to follow the paths that lead toward the goals (Schell,
Goals or objectives can also be used to help categorize games (Fullerton, 2008). This list of dierent
kind of game goals in dierent categories of games is for commercial games, but may inspire us for
developing game goals in learning games.
1. Capture: In capture games the goal is to destroy something that belongs to the opponent
and at the same time avoiding being killed or captured. An example of this is Chess.
2. Chase: In a chase game the goal for player is to elude her opponent if she is chased, or to
catch her opponent.
3. Race: In a race game, the player’s goal is to reach a goal before the other players—the goal
being either conceptual or physical in time. It will oen be a mix of strategy and chance
that determines who wins the race.
4. Alignment: In an alignment game, the goal is to arrange the objects in the game in a
certain spatial configuration or create conceptual alignment. Examples of this are Tic-tac-
toe or Tetris.
5. Rescue or escape: In a rescue game, the goal is to bring a unit in the game in safety. An
example of this is Mario Brothers.
6. Forbidden act: In this kind of game the goal is to break the rules or do wrong moves, such
as Twiste r, for example. These games are traditionally not digital games.
7. Construction games: In the game the goal is to build, manage and maintain objects. This
can for example be SimCity or Minecra.
8. Exploration games: In exploration games the goal for the player oen is to explore the
game areas and at the same time collect treasures and solve puzzles.
9. Solution: The goals in these games are to solve puzzles more accurately or before the
10. Outwit: The goal in outwit games is to use your knowledge to win over your opponent, for
example Trivial Pursuit.
If we are using a list such as the above for inspiration when creating game goals in learning games we
should be careful not just to create commercial games with learning implemented superficially in the
gameplay, but instead reflect on how we can use the dierent kinds of goals, and also reflect on the
quality, integrity and relevance of the goals in a creative way (Belman & Flanagan, 2009). One example
of a non-commercial game use of goals can be experienced in the game Hush (2007). This serious game
evokes a story about a personal experience of a complex historical situation from Rwanda and focuses
on a singular, personal experience as a solitary approach to the topic of genocide (Bogost, 2014). Hush is
created with inspiration from the Values at Play/Tiltfactor Lab’s Grow-A-Game-Cards (2014). In Hush
you are a mother and the goal is that you must calm your baby by singing a lullaby (tapping with the
right rhythm at the right key). The story takes place during war, and if the mother fails to keep her child
from crying, they will be discovered and killed. This is an example of a very dierent use of goals in a
game. The Grow-A-Game-Cards are a deck of cards used to inspire game design that incorporate values
into play. There are four card categories: challenges, games, values, and verbs. The game designer takes
a random card from each category and then uses the combination of cards for a brainstorm on the
design of a new game. In the Grow-A-Game-Cards (2014) the goals are implicit, in the sense that the
goals are to be found in all the dierent games in the game category. For example if you get the game
card, Go, the card will tell you, “one player uses black stones, the other white stones. In turns the players
“capture” as much territory as possible on a grid lined board.” This could be interpreted as a version of
a goal from Fullerton’s (2008) “capture” category above. When playing or designing with the Grow-A-
Game-Cards, three card categories, and the specific card, might be:
1. Value: family
2. Challenge: social inequality
3. Verb: wandering
The deck challenges the user to create a game that encompasses the four cards in an innovative way. In
a learning game, it would be relevant to use the game goals as a means to make the learning situated in
the sense that some of the game goals can be used to make the game relevant compared to where this
learning could take place in the real world. For example, we could design a math game that takes place
in a shop, where the shop owner has to keep account with how much he is buying and selling on a daily
basis. A goal in this imaginary game may be to earn more than the storeowner next door, and use this
as a way to learn basic addition and subtraction. So, when designing game goals it is important to be
creative and consider how the game goals can relate to the learning experience.
Designing learning goals
There are a number of method s to use to establish lea rning goa ls. In thi s section I wil l describe a fra mework
for designing learning consequences for seing learning goals, and then explain characteristics of how
learning goals can be defined and designed. Next, I will describe six levels of understanding when
mastering the learning goals, and then conclude with an explanation of how to design a progression
when implementing the learning goals.
Framework for learning design
Seing the learning goals is a part of the entire design for learning, that is, how you plan to carry out the
teaching and learning (Laurillard, 2012). Learning goals are a tool that can be used by the teacher and
students to improve teaching and learning, and they should be clear, relevant, realistic and meaningful.
Clear learning goals will make it easier for the student to evaluate her own learning process and work.
When choosing your learning goals, these goals should be seen in the context of the learning conditions,
the seing of the teaching, the educational content, the learning processes and the need for evaluation
of the learning all parts of Hiim & Hippe (1997) framework for learning design. All of these elements are
intertwined and should all be considered when designing a learning game. Though we aim to design the
learning goals in the game, it is also important to consider the following (Hiim & Hippe, 1997):
1. Learning conditions: This is the users’ prerequisite for learning. What prior knowledge can
the learner already be expected to have, or what knowledge does she need to have to be
able to reach the learning goals and be a successful learner in the game?
2. Seing of the learning: The seing of the game is important, but we also have to be aware
of time available and other contextual conditions to meet the learning goals from the
3. Learning goals: This includes a list of the learning goals, short-term and long-term, to be
achieved in the game. It is a highly motivating factor if the students are allowed to be a
part of choosing their own learning goals to make them meaningful for the students. These
goals can traditionally be seen as a contract between the student and the teacher, that is
what they both aim at respectively teaching and learning.
4. Learning content: This answers the question: What specific learning content should we
choose to make the student able to reach the learning goals?
5. Learning process: The learning processes are supported by all the learning activities that
we design to make the student reach the learning goals. These activities are determined by
the subject maer, but also to a great extent to which pedagogical approaches and learning
theories we want to use in the game. The learning theories can be based on behaviorism,
cognitive science, social constructivism, constructionism (Dede, 2008; Wu, Hsiao, Wu, Lin,
& Huang, 2012) or experiential learning (Kolb, 1984). Many recent evaluations on research
projects evaluating the eciency of learning games emphasize that we should make a clear
standpoint about which learning theory we use when designing games, since this will help
in our later ability to measure the eectiveness of the game in helping to reach the learning
outcomes (Wu et al., 2012).
6. Evaluation/assessment: The point is that we also need to design for evaluation and
assessment of whether our learner has reached the learning goal and the growth and
mastery we have aimed for in the game. These six points of aention are important to
consider when we design our learning game, since this will help ensure that the learner
reaches the learning goal.
When designing the learning in the game, the learning goals are what we are aiming for, but the
pedagogical approaches will vary depending on the subject maer. If, for example, the learning goal
is learning the alphabet, this involves understanding the abstract relationship between symbol and
sound, and part of the learning process will involve repetition and memorization, but also reflection
and evaluation. On the other hand, acquisition of social skills, for example, will acquire another set of
skills, competencies, and aitudes. As in more traditional learning processes outside games, we always
have to consider what the student should learn before choosing how she will learn it in a learning
game (Kirriemuir & McFarlane, 2006), and thus what kind of learning activities will help the student to
achieve the learning goals.
Definition and design of learning goals
The learning goals traditionally capture the three areas: knowledge, skills, and aitudes (Hiim & Hippe,
1997), though some taxonomies prefer to define the third area as competencies (Winterton, Delamare-Le
Deist, & Stringfellow, 2006). The knowledge goals describe which knowledge and intellectual abilities
the students should learn (Hiim & Hippe, 1997). The skills have a more practical nature and encompass
what the student can do with her knowledge and how she can demonstrate her knowledge. The aitudes
are learning goals encompassing feelings, aitudes and values (Hiim & Hippe, 1997). Competence
is interpreted in many ways but can be interpreted as learning goals covering a combination of the
theoretical knowledge and the practical skills (Winterton et al., 2006).
We should aim to design clear learning goals to make it easy for the student to comprehend what she
should learn and to make the learning goals easy to evaluate aer the learning process for the teacher.
One way this is done is by making the goals observable, so we can see if the student masters the learning
goal. This is oen obtained by applying action verbs in the formulation of the learning objectives. An
example of thi s is, “aer playi ng [a specific ga me], t he student should be able to [recognize/ demonstrate/
calculate/ decide/ evaluate/ formulate] [a fact, concept, topic, theme, task, activity, or skill] (Hiim &
Hippe, 1997). A way to start formulation learning goals is to end the sentence: “Aer playing [this game]
you should be able to [blank].”
A commonly used taxonomy of cognitive complexity was developed by Bloom (1956). In the slightly
revised version (Anderson & Krathwohl, 2001, p. 67-68), the model describes six levels of understanding
and mastering the learning goals, formulated as the students thinking according to the cognitive levels
of complexity. The ascending levels are: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating
and creating. Designing the learning objectives with these dierent cognitive levels in mind will give
an overview of how and at which level we expect our students to be able to master the learning goals,
and these levels will also help making the learning goals more simple to measure when we evaluate
what has been learned in the game and at what level of cognitive rigor (Hess, Jones, Carlock & Walkup,
2009). When studying a subject such as human rights, the specification of the cognitive levels when
designing the learning goals will make it possible to measure if the student only is able to remember
basic human rights or if she is able to apply and use human rights concepts for analyzing complex social
Progression in the choice of learning objectives in the game
When designing learning goals you should also be aware of the progression in the learning to make the
goals aainable. Learning progressions within a content area begin at the novice level with the core
concepts and skills as the learning goals; these core concepts and skills are considered fundamental.
To progress through a content area to reach the learning goal, every learner needs to master these
core competencies. For example, you could say that the student must learn and master the rules and
procedures within each learning topic to achieve the learning goal (Dreyfuss, 2001). This is one of the
things that successful computer games do very well. As the student has acquired the knowledge or the
learning goals in the novice level, the rules and skills are integrated into each other, and you can begin
to let the student get to know more complex relationships within the current topic, higher learning goals
as in Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive complexity. In education, it is important to take the student’s zone
of proximal development into account (Vygotsky, according to Santrock, 2008). This zone is located
between the student’s actual level of development and the potential development. You need to support
and scaold the implementation of the learning goals and slowly begin to “remove the scaolding” until
the student is able to work on his own at the current level of competence. This should be followed by the
next level in the new zone of proximal development, and in this way he will progress in an expanding
cycle, reaching new learning goals progressively.
Aligning game goals with learning goals
There are a number of dierent methodologies for aligning game goals with learning goals. I will
start by describing the Q Design Pack for Games and Learning, then Whion’s recommendations for
implementing learning in games, then The Smiley Model, which explains how the game elements in
this model relates to the learning goals.
One methodology for aligning game goals with learning goals is by the Institute of Play and described
in their book, Q Design Pack for Games and Learning. This book explains that, “All eective classroom
games are designed with specific learning goals in mind. Before you can design games focused on
specific learning goals, you need to learn about game design” (Institute of Play 1, 2014, p. 11). Learning
goals and game goals can be aligned by providing a practice space for goal-oriented challenges. For
example, in the game Dragonbox (2014), the student/player is provided with a practice space in which
she can gradually move through the challenges, explores and solve the puzzles reaching the game goals
and learning goals of each level.
The Q Design Packs oer a framework to develop learning games and within this frame it is central to
help align game goals with learning goals (Institute of Play 1, 2014; Salen, Torres, Wolozin, Rufo-Tepper,
& Shapiro, 2011). To align game goals with learning goals, we first generate ideas with the learning goal
in mind, while also considering how to assess these goals during and aer gameplay. This is based
on backward planning, which means knowing your students learning goals, and the final assessment
before planning the individual lessons and activities (Wiggins & McTighe, according to Institute of Play
1, 2014). This is followed by an elaboration of the game design comprising an overall mission with an
overall game goal and several quests with sub-goals on the way to the end goal. At the Institute of Play,
the students have used this framework for making their own learning games.
Whion, in Learning with Digital Games (2009), states that for a learning game to be a successful
learning tool, it should be designed in a way that ensues that the game goals support the learning goals.
Whion suggests creating a list that describes the intended learning goals, followed by a description of
the traditional learning activities that would lead to the student achieving these learning goals. Then,
this should be followed by a process of deciding which learning activities can be modified or embedded
within a game, as things we can do in the game. Whion does not directly mention the role of the game
goals in this design process.
There are many aempts to design frameworks for educational game design (Winn, 2008; Staalduinen
& Freitas, 2011). The Smiley-Model is a game design model describing how to design engaging learning
games (see Figure 1) (Weitze & Ørngreen, 2011). The model addresses how to design the learning and
how to implement the learning elements into the game while at the same time always considering how
to make the game motivating and engaging. The Smiley-Model uses the Hiim & Hippes (1997) learning
design framework described above for the learning design (Weitze & Ørngreen, 2011).
In the Smiley-Model, the game goal is one of the six game elements you can use when you want to “set
the learning design into play” (Weitze & Ørngreen, 2011). The five other game elements are: 1) action
space, 2) rules, 3) choice, 4) challenge, and 5) feedback. All the game elements are intertwined and thus,
the game goals are strongly related to the other game elements, when designing a learning game.
Figure 1. The Smiley Model. (Weitze & Ørngreen, 2011).
Because the game goal diers from the learning goal, we need to consider how we actually implement
the learning objectives in the game. The game mechanics, or which actions can be taken in the game,
what we can do, provide the structure to the game.
If all the game elements are intertwined, where are the learning goals found in a game? The “challenges”
in a learning game should be encompassing the learning goals, the learning content, and the learning
activities. For example, challenges can be, paerns you have to recognize, rules you have to learn,
tasks that should be solved, and hand-eye coordination to be learned (Koster, 2005). The framing of
the learning goals should determine which challenges are appropriate to include helping to meet the
learning goals. For example, when playing a learning game the purpose is to aain the learning goal
and to learn to master the action or to understand the paern. By playing the game successfully, the
learner will automatically show her competence when overcoming the challenges, since completing the
game would require that she knows how to solve the problem. If the student/player finds it dicult to
meet the challenge in the game, the game should provide feedback or scaolding, breaking down the
task into smaller game goals to support the player.
Koster (2005) suggests that challenges can be paerns or skills you have to learn, and similarly, Gee
(2005) suggests that it is possible to use skills as strategies in games. Gee (2005) explains that you can
design learning in a way that lets the learner practice a skill (this skill being part of the learning goals)
as part of a strategy to accomplish the game goals she wants to accomplish. In this way, the learner will
feel like the practicing process is part of a strategy to accomplish her game goal, removing the aention
from the traditional boredom that occurs when practicing the same thing over and over again.
When implementing learning elements into the game and in this situation observing and designing the
connection between the game goal and the other game elements in the Smiley-Model the player will
make some “choices” in the game and the “rules” are determining when the game goals are reached or
not reached. If the learning goals for example are to learn algebra in the Dragonbox game, the “rules”
at the same time are a big part of the learning process since they are making the student/player reach
the “learning goals” by leing her train “basic memorization” and even reflexes, by doing the same
thing over and over if she does not succeed the first time. This learning will happen while the student
is working her way through the game (Flanagan, Hash, & Isbister, 2010).
Moreover, the 6th game element “feedback” is crucial to let the student/player know if he has reached
the goals and to assure that learning has occurred (Table 2). In fact, feedback in the game corresponds
very well with the feedback that is needed when learning (Murphy et al., 2013). If “short-term feedback
in the game is given within one and a half seconds on the action taken (Wilms, 2011), research suggests
that this will give the student/player the opportunity to experience the feeling of “learning by doing,”
meaning developing and learning as a result of first-hand experience (Chatfield, 2010; Kirriemuir &
McFarlane, 2006). If the player does not fulfill the learning goal he should have “feedback.” The “long-
term feedback” given in a game should be more instructive and can provide guidance and strategic
feedback (process-feedback) (has resemblance with formative feedback in learning) or give information
on action/performance-based data (outcome-feedback), which then will lead the learner toward the
learning goal (Sanchez, Cannon-Bowers, & Bowers, 2010) (For more details on feedback, see Murphy et
al., 2013).
Table 1. Feedback on the sixth game element in the Smiley Model
Feedback Characteristics
Sho rt-t erm
Within 1,5 seconds on the action taken, enables t he experience of
“lear ning by doing”
Process feedback Instructive, provides guidance and strategic feedback
Outcome feedback Performance-based data
In the game development process and when the game is tested you have to alter, add and adjust the
dierent game elements to improve the game and reach both the learning goals as well as the game
goals (Schell, 2008).
Case Study Two: Re-Mission 2
Re-Mission 2 is a ga me for young people with cancer developed by HopeL ab, a research a nd development
nonprofit company. Re-Mission 2 consists of six small games and the aim is to help young people with
cancer fight their disease. The learning goals are to teach young people to stick to their treatments
and shi aitudes about chemotherapy since these two elements are important parts of a successful
treatment that helps to fight cancer. The game aims to motivate the players to stick to their treatments
by boosting self-ecacy and building positive emotions in the players.
For children, a problem with cancer treatment is that it is a very rough treatment both physically and
psychologically. The children sometimes feel more ill aer their chemotherapy treatment, and therefore,
at times it feels like they are hurting themselves more by sticking to the treatment. But this treatment
will help them fight the disease, and therefore it is crucial that the children work with and not against
the treatment. The knowledge about the disease and treatment is normally given by doctors as wrien
information and is dicult for the children to understand and learn. The game has been developed
by medical professionals, game developers, and young patients and has been designed so the children
learn about what is going on inside their bodies when cancer aacks. The game also gives the children
an idea of what power they have in defeating cancer.
The learning goals and game goals are aligned in Re-Mission 2. For example, the learning goals are:
1. That cancer can be defeated.
2. That you have dierent kinds of possibilities to take an active part in defeating cancer.
3. What is going on inside the body when cancer is aacking and how the dierent kinds of
medical treatments work.
4. That the body has weapons and there are also medical weapons that can be used to fight
5. That there are dierent kinds of cancer cells more and less aggressive, so you have to
aack them in dierent ways.
In the game, the player is put inside the human body to defeat cancer, being able to use weapons such
as chemotherapy, antibiotics, and the body’s natural defenses. The overall goal is to defeat cancer and
there are dierent sub-goals inside each game.
In the game Nanobot’s Revenge in Re-Mission 2, the mission and game goal is to defeat the Nuclear
Tyrant and his forces. The player is the powerful microscopic robot Nanobot designed to blast away
cancer and the mission is to prevent the cancer cells completing the tumor and stop the tumor from
reaching the blood stream. The goal is thus concrete, achievable, and is designed in a way that makes
the player look forward to achieving them. The game goals also give the player an opportunity to feel
that he achieves competence, autonomy, and control when being able to defeat the Nuclear Tyrant
because he is learning what it takes to kill the bad cells. There are nested goals in the game, since there
are dierent kinds of challenges with enemy-cells to be defeated at the dierent levels in the game—all
representing dierent kinds of cancer cells having dierent kinds of ways to build cancer and resist
the players’ aacks. The player, on the other hand, has dierent kinds of weapons with which to defeat
the bad cells (e.g., chemo, radiation, antibiotics) and the rules in the game determines if you beat the
Nuclear Tyrant and his forces (e.g., some of the bad cells can only be defeated with specific kinds of
treatment). The sub-goals make it easier for the player to understand the game and experience small
successes while managing the dierent challenges. The game is thus designed so the learning goals are
implemented in an overall mission with an overall game goal and several sub-quests with sub-goals
on the way to the end goal. By playing the game with progression toward the game goals, the player
is learning what is going on in the body when cancer is aacking, experiencing that he has the power
to use the dierent kind of treatments to fight the bad cells and is engaged with the intended learning
goals while playing the game.
The research suggested that playing Re-Mission (the first Re-Mission game with a gameplay that
resembles Re-Mission 2) significantly improved key behavioral and psychological factors associated
with successful cancer treatment and that the game had an impact on the biological level as well (Kato,
Cole, Bradlyn, & Pollock, 2008). The players showed a faster increase in self-ecacy and also showed
a faster acquisition of cancer-related knowledge. The results indicate that Re-Mission successfully
reached its learning goals through the game goals, giving a positive impact on the young peoples health
behavior. Furthermore, another study showed that the fact that the young people with chronic illness
was actu ally playing t he game instead of just watchi ng someone else playing the ga me is the main reason
for the activation of the brain’s positive motivation circuits, supporting earlier findings suggesting that
Re-Mi ssion’s eectiveness stems from its impact on individual emotional and motivational processes.
The impact on the emotional processes leads to a shi in the young people’s aitudes and emotions,
which helps boost the players’ adherence to the prescribed chemotherapy and antibiotic treatments
(Cole, Yoo, Knutson, 2012). The Re-Mission games have thus successfully been able to align learning
goals and game goals.
Key Findings
In thi s section, I discuss re search on findings i n game goals and desc ribe Hirum i et al.’s (2010) exper iences
with implementing learning goals in the game.
Research findings on game goals
The game goals should be motivating, and this will happen if they arouse curiosity, and provide a sense
of competence, autonomy, and control (Weitze & Ørngreen, 2011). If you give the player an opportunity
to choose and adjust her ow n goals, research suggests that it wi ll enhance feelings of freedom, autonomy
and give her the possibility of targeting special interests (Deci & Ryan, 2000).
Game goals should be presented in a way that ensures that a structured flow of goals following and
nested inside each other will pull you through the game. This means presenting a long-term goal or
overall goal (e.g., rescue the princess and become a hero), and medium-term goal (e.g., kill level the
dragon) and the short-term goals (e.g., collect jewels for the princess). These goals are nested such that
the small goals help progress and guide the player toward the larger goals. Larger and smaller goals
can be achieved throughout the game (Deterding, 2011). Spliing game goals into many small and large
goals will help to provide a sense of having many small successes for the player (Chatfield, 2010). It is
also important to link the goals to each other in a meaningful way so the game can be experienced as
coherent (Schell, 2008).
Implementing learning goals in the game
Instr uctional designer s may know lile about game development and on the ot her hand game developers
oen may know lile about training, education and instructional design. Therefore, it sometimes might
be dicult to work together for the two professions, being able to use and realize the potentials of both
game and learning (Hirumi et al., 2010; Iuppa & Borst, 2010).
Some of the dierences for learning designers and game designers can be described like this: For game
designers the goals and outcomes are important, but goals are only secondary to the gameplay itself
(Koster, 2005). For the learning designers goals, outcomes are very important and have a high priority.
The game designer will prioritize an engaging gameplay, perhaps sacrificing veracity and coherence.
This might seem to be happening in the wrong order but in learning games the goals are not more
important than an engaging gameplay. Instead the learning goals and game goals are more like “anchor
points on intersecting continua” and not opposed concepts (Hirumi et al., 2010, p. 32).
On the other hand the learning game designer should not ignore the learning goals and it is important
to choose appropriate educational strategies and plan for assessment in the game. Hirumi et al. (2010)
suggest that the key lies in finding ways to incorporate gameplay into our objectives, and to design
eective learning into gameplay design. If the game is not fun, a game designer will oen try to find a
way to solve that situation at once, without playing the same full aention to assure that the learning
goal is met. The learning goals do not have to be represented explicitly in the game, but we can aim to
align the desired learning outcomes with the game outcomes, and at the same time aim to facilitate
learning and engagement (Hirumi et al., 2010).
Game designers and learni ng designers need to work together and understand each other’s perspectives.
The game designers will design challenges, quests, obstacles and puzzles at the same time deciding for
the conditions for progress and mastery. The learning designers on the other hand can elaborate on
the “Learning Task Maps,” specifying the skills that will be needed to achieve the overall goal. The
game and learning designers then move on to specifying the context, behavior, as well as the criteria
for mastery of each challenge or skill. In a learning game, the evaluation and feedback in the game has
to include evaluation of the learning goals. On the other hand, the learning designers have to learn
and understand that evaluation has to be imbedded in the gameplay, and that this might change the
traditional strategies and sequence of learning as well as some of the challenges and strategies in the
game may go beyond traditional achievement of the learning goals.
What is actually learned in the game?
The aim is to design the game in a way that enables the player to reach the learning goal as well as the
game goal. To do this, we should also consider the dierence between the two (Staalduinen & Freitas,
2011, p.44):
1. What the player can learn in the game, that is, what the game’s creator has intended in the
design concerning learning goals.
2. The skills and topics the player must learn to be able to finish the game. This should partly
be the same as what the player must learn in the game.
3. Things that the player actually has learned aer playing the game.
4. Collateral learning: This is what the player learns in the game that was not directly
intended or just was not connected directly to the subject maer.
5. “Cheats” or the things the player has learned in the game, oen by taking short-cuts or
exploring the game, but sometimes a consequence of this also is that the student skips over
the intended learning in this process (Staalduinen & Freitas, 2011, p. 44).
No maer how thoroughly you plan your implementation of the learning goals and align them with the
game goals, you need to playtest your game with real students to see if your intentions came through.
Assessment Considerations
In learning games assessment has an important role, since we want to be able to investigate if the
student has achieved the learning objectives while playing the game. Feedback in a learning game
is essential, since the possibility to give individual informative feedback to the student is one of the
advantages of learning games. Games should be able to gather data from the learner and give direct,
useful and relevant feedback, telling the student where he is in the learning process and where he
should consider going next. We need to decide how the learning objectives will be measured in the
game and how student performance will be evaluated to provide actionable and relevant feedback and
support student self-reflection (Wilson, Bejar, Scalise, Templin, Wiliam, & Irribarra, 2012).
Likewise, a teacher needs to set the learning objectives, select content appropriate for reaching the
learning objectives, design appropriate learning activities, and aer having conducted these activities,
observe and evaluate/assess the obtained learning of the students, followed by giving helpful feedback
to the student aerward (Hiim & Hippe, 1997). The same type of process needs to be integrated into the
game’s design.
Evaluation should happen in the game as well as around the game. Staalduinen & Freitas (2011)
distinguishes between three kinds of player assessment in games:
1. Post-game assessment: Here the teacher tests aer the game with a wrien or oral test
examining what the student has learned. This is not really a part of the game, but can be a
good way to test if the teacher has used a commercial game for learning.
2. Post-game debriefing or evaluation: This kind of assessment is an evaluative talk
between the students/players and the teacher about which experiences they have had in
the game. (Staalduinen & Freitas, 2011).
3. In-game feedback: The game measures progress, achievement, and scores (long-term
feedback), that is feedback on the player’s actions in the game (Staalduinen & Freitas,
2011; Wilson, Bedwell, Lazzara, Salas, Burke, Estock, Orvis, & Conkey, 2009; Salen &
Zimmerman, 2004).
Learning is situated inside learning games and therefore the assessment also can be designed to happen
continuously within the narrative context of the game. This can both happen with short-term goals (e.g.,
by solving the puzzle and moving on in the game), and long-term goals (e.g., by solving all the challenges
and reaching the final goal). Successful performance is therefore not necessarily communicated as it
is in traditional teaching (e.g., giving marks), instead assessment in games is happening as part of the
story through real (game) world consequences (e.g., you unlock new challenges, you move to another
part of the world, you level-up when having solved one of the learning goals). In this kind of in-game
assessment it is important to understand the dierence between assessment in games and in traditional
teaching and design in a way such that the learning goals also take the game context into account
(Hirumi et al., 2010).
It is important that we create a supportive environment for learning (Wiliam, 2012). When we give
feedback in games, we basically either tell the student if her current performance has reached the goal
or has fallen short on the goal. Our wish is that the student’s response is increased eort and aspiration
toward the learning goals. If the feedback gives the learner a feeling that she might fail while many
others has succeeded, she might be disengaged, deciding that it is beer to be thought lazy than dumb,
and thus she does not continue the progress toward the learning goal. Thus, to increase the likelihood
of a productive student response you should:
1. Make the game a safe place to make mistakes.
2. Let the feedback eectively convey the idea that everyone can become smart. If the learner
does not feel smart, then he is just not smart “yet.”
3. Provide the learner with the support needed in a way that acknowledges that we do not all
learn the same way, and that is okay.
4. Enable the student to focus on the comments and details of the feedback, and not on the
5. Give useful feedback only focusing on the subjects that the learner can change.
6. Give feedback in a way that gives space and place for the learner to improve the results.
Future research
There is lile research to be found on how to align the learning goals with the game goals, therefore the
field of learning games can benefit from further research in this area, since a number of studies confirm
the importance of aligning the learning goals with what can be learned in the game (Gee, 2011; Wilson
et al., 2009) and the need of frameworks for doing this (Akilli, 2007). There have been many pedagogical
approaches when designing game-based learning (Wu, et al., 2012; Kebritchi & Hirumi, 2008), for
example, behaviorism, cognitivist or constructivism. To be able to assess the variables in a successful
learning game, we should define which learning theories are behind the design of the game, since
this will give an opportunity to measure the pedagogical components, among these the learning goals,
and later repeat the success in other learning games. Dede (2011) recommends establishing common
research strategies and models for educational games to aim at making studies that complement each
other in what and how they explore. One way to research how to beer align learning goals with game
goals is to observe and analyze the conditions of when learning games are successful at providing an
eective learning environment for the students and then take the following into consideration: the
pedagogical approach, the curriculum, the subject maer, the context, and the characteristics of the
students, teachers in the learning situation in question, and mapping these variables that are in every
learning situation (Dede, 2011). This will be a beer way of researching instead of aiming at universal
frameworks, which will work in every condition since no educational approach and no educational
technology w ill be universa lly eective. Then, we might be able to take a ll the necessary parameters into
consideration when aiming at embedding the leaning goals into the game’s goals and game’s mechanics.
Case Study Three: Research Labs
A number of research labs and centers are dedicated to the study of implementing learning into games
and how to assess the learning in and around the game.
Glasslab at Institute of Play has developed SimCityEdu (2014) a SimCity-based learning tool that allows
teachers to make use of the already provided lesson plans or to design their own lesson plans inside
the game. In SimCityEdu, students can explore the simulations created in the city. For example, there is
a challenge on how to bring the air pollution down, and at the same time keeping the employment up,
leing the students experience the complex consequences of their choices within a complex system. In
the game, the students can play the role of a mayor, responsible for the challenging work of addressing
environmental impact, while at the same time balancing the employment needs and the happiness
of the citizens in the city. In SimCityEdu, the students have individual learning experiences, and the
game aims at improving the learning process by providing formative assessment of the learning goals.
The teacher can access information about the students’ ability to problem solve, read, and explain the
relationships in complex systems.
Institute of Play has recently released a whitepaper on how to assess student learning by formative
assessment as well as by using gameplay data, proposing a design approach that links the process of
game design with the process of assessment design (Mislevy, Oranje, Bauer, Davier, & Hao, 2014). This
paper describes some of the thoughts behind the continued elaboration of SimCityEdu and the work on
developing standards for game-based assessment.
The SimCityEdu game is built so the teachers can create their own lesson plans encompassing learning
goals, and teachers and students also have access to dashboards that give an overview. Glasslab has
developed lesson plans for SimCityEdu, which teachers are free to use. For instance, one of the units
in the physical science-based lessons is called “Power to the People.” This unit deals with energy
consumption, cost, and consequences and is designed for grades six through eight. This specific lesson
(“Power to the People”) lasts 5 days with 45-minute lessons, with the students studying fossil fuels,
nuclear power, solar, and wind energy—all renewable energy sources. The students have to create an
energy system grid in their city in the game to supply power to everything that they build. In the game
they will experience that there are real-world consequences according to the choices they make in the
game, giving them opportunities to reflect on these consequences. A teacher can see the learning goals
that the students will be working with on all five days and there is also a list of essential questions that
the students should be able to answer aer playing the game. The assessment takes form as formative
assessment, both 1) outside the game in the discussions in the class, as well as 2) inside the game, since to
make some of the right choices in the game and move on in the game, the students have to understand
part of the knowledge in the curriculum. But the teacher can also choose to use the designed 3) pre- and
post-assessments in the game to get an idea (summative assessment) of what the students has learned
in the game.
Best practices
The following is a list of best practices for aligning game and learning goals.
Game goals
1. Goal qualities: The goals should be concrete, achievable and designed in a way that makes
the player look forward to achieving them.
2. Sense of control: The goal should provide a sense of competence, autonomy and control as
well as arouse curiosity.
3. Many small and large goals nested in the game: Make a meaningful and structured flow
of nested goals in the game, from short-term to long-term goals by leing the small goals
help progressing and guiding the player to the larger goals. This will give an overview in
the game and provide a feeling of many small successes.
Integrating game goals and learning goals
1. Backward planning: Designers need to know the student’s learning goals and the method
of assessment before planning the individual lessons, activities and game goals.
2. Elaborate missions and quests: Use the learning goals to determine the game design,
which should comprise an overall mission with an overall game goal, and several sub-
quests with sub-goals on the way to the end goal.
3. Engagement with learning goals: Let the progress toward the game goals necessitate
engagement with the intended learning goals.
4. Embed the learning activities in the game: Let the learning activities be modified or
embedded within the game.
5. Challenges: The challenges in a learning game comprise the learning goals, the content
and the learning activities. When overcoming the challenges in the game, the learner will
show her competence since this requires that she know how to solve the problem and
aain the learning goal.
6. Purpose of the challenge: To reach the learning goal and to learn to master the action or to
understand the paern you have to recognize, skills or rules you have to learn, tasks that
should be solved, and hand-eye coordination to be learned.
7. Game goals and rules: The rules should help determine if the game goals are reached or
not reached.
8. Connection between the learning process and rules: The rules might be part of the
learning process, helping to meet the learning goal. This can, for example, be designed in
the game by leing the rules and goals invite the player to repeat or retry the task until the
challenge is solved.
9. Goals and feedback: Feedback gives the student/player a possibility to know if he has
reached the learning, as well as the game goals, thereby helping to ensure learning and
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Citizen Science (
Construct 2 (
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Game maker (
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Games for change (
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... A key question then is how to effectively design video games to align the learner's attention and cognitive load to the stated learning objectives. The following sections discuss game components that can be manipulated to attain learning objectives (Hodent, 2017;Weitze, 2014). ...
... 90). If a game requires engagement with the intended learning objectives in order to progress, then it has a much greater chance of success as a learning tool (Salen et al., 2011;Weitze, 2014;Whitton, 2009). On the other hand, if for example, the player can finish a level by simply clicking randomly, then the game goals can be easily achieved but little learning will occur. ...
... When aligning learning goals with game goals, careful consideration should be given not only to game challenges and rules, but also feedback (Salen et al., 2011;Weitze, 2014). Despite the importance of feedback in game-based environments, relatively little research has systematically evaluated the effect of feedback characteristics on learning outcomes. ...
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Over the past 20 years, the proposal that immersive media, such as video games, can be leveraged to enhance brain plasticity and learning has been put to the test. This expanding literature highlights the extraordinary power of video games as a potential medium to train brain functions, but also the remaining challenges that must be addressed in developing games that truly deliver in terms of learning objectives. Such challenges include the need to: (1) Maintain high motivation given that learning typically requires long-term training regimens, (2) Ensure that the content or skills to be learned are indeed mastered in the face of many possible distractions, and (3) Produce knowledge transfer beyond the proximal learning objectives. Game design elements that have been proposed to support these learning objectives are reviewed, along with the underlying psychological constructs that these elements rest upon. A discussion of potential pitfalls is also included, as well as possible paths forward to consistently ensure impact.
... Si nos focalizamos en la AJ, varios autores y autoras han detectado limitaciones y/o futuros retos en el diseño de propuestas ABJ para promover el aprendizaje de las ciencias (Weitze 2014;Li y Tsai 2013;Young et al. 2012;Chmiel 2009). ...
... El equilibrio entre la diversión y las acciones educativas debe ser el objetivo de todo el desarrollo del diseño del juego (Arnab et al. 2015). Diseñar un juego educativo equilibrado es un reto para el alumnado de maestro, ya que se encuentran en una fase inicial en el desarrollo de planificaciones didácticas, y tampoco saben cómo integrar los diferentes elementos del juego o diseñar una buena jugabilidad que mantenga a las jugadoras motivadas y comprometidas como lo hacen las diseñadoras profesionales de juegos (Weitze 2014). ...
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La investigación sobre el Aprendizaje Basado en el Juego (ABJ) en las áreas científicas ha aumentado en los últimos años, pero aún encontramos una falta de estudios sobre las maestras en formación inicial como diseñadoras de juegos para la enseñanza y el aprendizaje de las ciencias. La investigación sobre el juego en la Educación sugiere que el juego promociona el desarrollo de habilidades, actitudes y valores útiles también para el aprendizaje de las ciencias. Sin embargo, existen algunos obstáculos y retos a tener en cuenta para la adecuada integración de juego y ciencias. Esta investigación describe cómo las maestras en formación inicial diseñan actividades de juego en una Secuencia de Enseñanza y Aprendizaje (SEA) con el objetivo de promover un tema de ciencias, antes y después de su primera asignatura de didáctica de las ciencias. Los resultados nos muestran: un aumento de la intencionalidad didáctica de la actividad de juego en la SEA; la detección de dos formas diferentes de alinear los objetivos lúdicos y educativos; la mejora en la estructuración de las normas para promover más autonomía y; la tendencia en diseñar actividades de juego más educativas que lúdicas. Se propone incidir sobre el juego en la formación inicial de maestras para reflexionar con más profundidad de la relación entre el diseño del juego y las prácticas que van a promover.
... It creates a sense of ownership for the player or for the player-controlled avatars contained within the gamewhich then ensures that the players care about the game goals and constantly tries to achieve it as it gets progressively difficult. Game goals are a hierarchical set of goals sets specific task or a series of game challenges for players to complete (Weitze, 2014) and are the key element of the game. Without game objectives, the game experience itself may lose much of its structure and appeal. ...
... The players' positive experience of achieving the objective can be considered the measure of the engagement or involvement in the game. Objectives are a crucial element that provides or enables the players with something to strive towards (Lovell, 2017;Weitze, 2014). This is where energy comes inwhere the movement, momentum and pacing of the game is put into play to achieve the outcomes of the game. ...
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This paper explores the link between play, an evolutionary and biological trait found in human behaviour and the fundamental human psychological needs; and its complex relationship with the game design principles in order to answer the following - why do people play games and what motivates them to do so? Answering these two questions would enable educational game designers to better understand game design principles for developing engaging educational games. This research will delve into the psychological aspects of play and attempt to link those aspects to game design elements. Studying Prensky’s six elements of successful games, the Octalysis gamification framework and the fundamental psychological needs, the paper will then present the findings of an exploratory and confirmatory survey from practicing game designers all around South-East Asia. The results of these findings give an overall positive and current result that provides a useful point of reference in order to create a game design model that would offer a set of guiding principles for educational game designers to create engaging gameplay.
... Learning through designing supports the theory of constructionism, which states that the construction of new ideas occurs effectively when students are involved in the production of artifacts in a real life environment (Papert, 1971). The concept of learning through designing is used in teaching and learning so that students have the opportunity to generate ideas and produce a design artifact, such as a digital game (Hwang & Kim, 2016;Kafai & Resnick, 2011;Osman & Lay, 2020;Ronen-Fuhrmann et al., 2008;Weitze, 2014), simulation (Bruckman, 1998;Kaloti-Hallak et al., 2019;Samad & Osman, 2017), model (Pearl & Bless, 2021), prototype (Hill-Cunningham et al., 2018;Lin et al., 2021;Mesutoglu & Baran, 2020;Verner & Korchnoy, 2006;Wilson-Lopez et al., 2016), and robot (Kaloti-Hallak et al., 2019;Long et al., 2020;Winarno et al., 2020). Therefore, this study aims to identify the effectiveness of learning through designing in inventive thinking among rural students with regard to electrochemistry. ...
Learning through designing is the latest innovation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics teaching and learning in the 21<sup>st</sup> century. This study aims to identify the effectiveness of EkSTEMiT module in fostering inventive thinking in the subject of electrochemistry. EkSTEMiT module was tested through a quasi-experimental design method of nonequivalent pre- and post-tests. A total of 63 students from four rural schools were involved in this study. Two schools were included in the treatment group (n=32), and two schools were included in the control group (n=31). The instrument used in this study was Inventive Thinking Questionnaire, which consists of adaptability and complexity management, self-regulation, curiosity, creativity, risk-taking, and higher-order thinking and reasoning subdomains. Analysis of MANOVA repeated measures showed no significant effect for group and time and no significant interaction effect between group and time on the level of students’ inventive thinking. Although EkSTEMiT module does not have a significant impact on the level of inventive thinking, it can have a particular impact on the teaching of innovative instructors and can subsequently increase interest in the subject of chemistry among students.
... Learning goals should be considered when designing educational game because the game system usually associates with the learning objectives [40]. Learning goals are the specifc knowledge and skills that the game is designed to teach and should be aligned with the objectives of the game [42]. Moreover, learning goals are set to promote users' knowledge [41]. ...
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The evolution in information technology has brought worldwide access to information. Information technology has become an approach for effective learning in the education sector. This development provides an opportunity for people with disabilities. However, many educational software and applications in the market, such as serious games, cannot be accessed by low-vision children due to the visual properties in game design. For instance, small text and graphic sizes, lack of colour contrast, complex visual effects, or reliance on visual cues for instructions are among the visual properties that contribute to these accessibility challenges. They can play serious games as long as they are designed based on their accessibility needs. This paper proposed a serious games design model for low-vision children. The three main components are accessibility, game design, and pedagogy. The serious game accessibility design model is implemented using a low-fidelity prototype that takes the form of a serious game mockup. This prototype allows for basic interaction and testing of the game’s features, with a focus on accessibility considerations. The expert validation was conducted on the prototype using heuristic evaluation to assess its usability. Based on the evaluation, the experts agreed on implementing the proposed model to the prototype.
... Goals are essential to games; they establish what the user must do to succeed and provide the user with a sense of accomplishment and progression. By adding a goal (e.g., securing people, applying floodwalls, sheltering a certain number of people), we can transform a non-game activity into a game (Weitze, 2014). ...
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The number and devastating impacts of natural disasters have grown significantly worldwide, and floods are one of the most dangerous and frequent natural disasters. Recent studies emphasize the importance of public awareness in disaster preparedness and response activities. FloodGame is designed as a web-based interactive serious game geared towards educating K-12 and college students and raising public awareness on flood prevention and mitigation strategies so that they are more informed about the implications of future floods. A web-based interactive gaming environment with rich 3D visuals and models is developed that allows users to experiment with different flood mitigation strategies for a real-world location of their choice. This immersive, repeatable, and engaging experience will allow students and the public to comprehend the consequences of individual mitigation measures, build a conceptual understanding of the benefits of mitigation actions, and examine how floods may occur in their communities.
... Goals are objectives that a person or system wishes to achieve. In the context of a game, goals give the player a sense of achievement or progression (Weitze, 2014), goals are traditionally quantifiable, so they can be measured, thus it is possible to know when a goal has been achieved. Feedback in games is a very important mechanism to communicate to the player his progress, with it can be communicated trophies, badges, points or unlock new challenges and goals. ...
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Pervasive computing has become a key element to build applications that use fun as a motivating component because it allows exploring new interaction schemes by making the concept of space and time ambiguous and confusing. The present research describes a pervasive social gaming experience, using as a reference SocialPG, which is a model that describes social expansion as a strategy to improve gaming experiences supported by pervasive computing. In this article a description of the model is offered, software architecture is proposed to support it and a case study related to the process of error resolution and detection of improvement opportunities in software products is developed, finally, a general idea about the final software product that will support the game experience is offered together with an evaluation performed by a set of users, where some important findings are highlighted, such as the importance of the missions as a unit of cooperative work and the spectator's participation.
In recent years, there has been a dramatic rise of the use of escape rooms in education. It is a creative form of a gamified learning experience that proves to be effective especially in higher education and online learning environments. This research describes a breakout learning experience, framed in an online master's degree of educational innovation for professional educators. It was designed as a final review of the main theoretical concepts from the course, fostering students' self-assessment. In addition, this experience would pose an example of an active methodology activity that may serve as an inspiration for the students' own teaching practice, presenting them with a student-centered strategy that can provide an innovative dynamic in their classes.
This chapter reflects on pre-service teacher (PST) education by bringing together two different but interconnected science education research areas: gaming and emotions. There are few studies on PSTs as game designers. In this chapter, the difficulty of balancing elements of game design with pedagogical aims in gaming activity is documented. Paralleling this paucity of research on gaming is a lack of research focusing on PST’s sense-making about their pedagogy through their emotions. From a hermeneutic phenomenological research approach, these two issues are examined by presenting an exploratory study. Qualitative analysis of three focus-group discussions with three groups of three elementary PSTs focused on the group member’s emotional experiences while designing and implementing science game activities in a teaching and learning sequence. The nature of the PST’s emotional experiences serves as the background to identify the challenges of introducing game design in pre-service teacher education. Planning moments of implementation in science education courses allow the opportunity for reflection on how PSTs react to students’ emotions.
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Computer games and simulations are considered powerful tools for learning with an untapped potential for formal educational use. However, the lack of available well-designed research studies about their integration into teaching and learning leaves unanswered questions, despite their more than 30 years of existence in the instructional design movement. Beginning with these issues, this chapter aims to shed light on the definition of games and simulations, their educational use, and some of their effects on learning. Criticisms and new trends in the field of instructional design/development in relation to educational use of games and simulations are briefly reviewed. The chapter intends to provide a brief theoretical framework and a fresh starting point for practitioners in the field who are interested in educational use of games and simulations and their integration into learning environments.
Conference Paper
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The desire to use learning games in education is increasing, but the development of games for learning is still a growing field. Research shows that it remains difficult to develop learning games that are both instructive and engaging, although it is precisely the presence of these two elements that is believed to be an advantage when using learning games in education. In this paper the Smiley-model is presented (figure 1). The model describes which parameters and elements are important when designing a learning game. The present research is a result of a case-based action research study for designing a music learning game that teaches children to play piano using sheet music, and at the same time is fun and engaging. Although the model was originally developed for and through music, it has a more generic nature, and may be relevant for other fields as well. The Smiley-model is a condensed version of a design manual developed in a Master's thesis (Weitze, 2011), created on the basis of theoretical and empirical analysis, and is currently being applied to other research projects. The research concerning design for learning was carried out with an analysis of specific and general learning theory. Furthermore, theories about children, culture and media, as well as empirical analysis of the writers’ own music teaching practice were investigated. Motivation and engagement in music learning games was investigated through: 1) an analysis of various theoretical and empirical approaches to implementing learning in a learning game, 2) study of motivational theories, 3) analysis of theory of play and existing experiences on dissemination of learning in games in fun ways 4) analysis of motivating and engaging game elements, and 5) analysis of similar music learning games. During an iterative design process, the design manual was used for development of various prototypes of the learning game concept. This happened through action research in collaboration with the users, in participatory design workshops, combined with observation, qualitative interviews, and peer reviews. Through empirical studies and design development, it was possible to add new aspects to the design manual, resulting in the Smiley-model. The Smiley-model is now proving useful as a combination of a heuristic and an inspirational tool (more flexible and contextual than static), when designing engaging learning games, and gamified learning environments.
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The design for Quest to Learn, an innovative school in New York City that offers a “game-like” approach to learning. Quest to Learn, an innovative school for grades 6 to 12 in New York City, grew out of the idea that gaming and game design offer a promising new paradigm for curriculum and learning. The designers of Quest to Learn developed an approach to learning that draws from what games do best: drop kids into inquiry-based, complex problem spaces that are built to help players understand how they are doing, what they need to work on, and where to go next. Content is not treated as dry information but as a living resource; students are encouraged to interact with the larger world in ways that feel relevant, exciting, and empowering. Quest to Learn opened in the fall of 2009 with 76 sixth graders. In their first semester, these students learned—among other things—to convert fractions into decimals in order to break a piece of code found in a library book; to use atlases and read maps to create a location guide for a reality television series; and to create video tutorials for a hapless group of fictional inventors. This research and development document outlines the learning framework for the school, making the original design available to others in the field. Elements in development include a detailed curriculum map, a budget, and samples of student and teacher handbooks.
This volume is the first reader on video games and learning of its kind. Covering game design, game culture and games as twenty-first-century pedagogy, it demonstrates the depth and breadth of scholarship on games and learning to date. The chapters represent some of the most influential thinkers, designers and writers in the emerging field of games and learning - including James Paul Gee, Soren Johnson, Eric Klopfer, Colleen Macklin, Thomas Malaby, Bonnie Nardi, David Sirlin and others. Together, their work functions both as an excellent introduction to the field of games and learning and as a powerful argument for the use of games in formal and informal learning environments in a digital age.
Every day, teachers design and test new ways of teaching, using learning technology to help their students. Sadly, their discoveries often remain local. By representing and communicating their best ideas as structured pedagogical patterns, teachers could develop this vital professional knowledge collectively